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Anchored in Hope - Jacob

This week we are excited to welcome senior counselor Jacob Weeks. As a senior counselor, you are based at either our Okoboji or our Ingham Lake location, will likely serve at least one week on a traveling Day Camp team, and will also likely serve at least one week on support staff. We also try to allow our senior counselors to spend at least one week at the location they are not based at so they are able to experience as many aspects of our summer camp ministry as possible. Jacob has been based at our Ingham Lake location this summer. Read on to hear how God has been working in his life this summer!

My name is Jacob Weeks. This is my third summer on staff, and I’m serving as a senior counselor with Ingham as my primary site. I have been greatly blessed by being able to spend my summer helping with youth camps at Ingham. However, the story of how I ended up on summer staff this year is a little different when compared to the majority of our staff. How I ended up back on staff this summer is just one part of what God has been teaching me, and how He has continued to call me farther into trusting Him and His timing. It has also been a great opportunity to see God’s faithfulness through the years and the continued growth of seeds planted years ago.

My first summer on staff was as a junior counselor in 2012. I then returned in 2014 for a summer at Ingham as a senior counselor. One may ask how I now find myself, after eight years away, back at camp once again working as a senior counselor. The only answer is that God’s timing and plans are not always what we expect, and amazing things can happen when we follow God’s plans instead of our own.

I graduated from college in 2016 with a degree in Missions Aviation. I was a pilot and a mechanic with the intent of serving in full-time missions supporting missionaries in remote regions. While that is still my intent and where I believe He is still calling me in the long term, He asked me to take a short break from pursuing that path and come back to camp. Throughout this spring several former and current staff members repeatedly asked if I was going to come back this summer. For several months my response remained the same, “It doesn’t work for me to work there, I have a ‘real’ job now.” However, as summer kept getting closer, it became more and more clear to me that camp was exactly where God was directing me to this summer. When I finally agreed to come back, I thought I knew what to expect and what my summer would look like. After all, I had done this before. I was expecting a simple summer of me simply helping guide campers through each week. I had forgotten that God, through camp, affects and grows the staff just as much as the campers we are here to serve.

Immediately when I got here during staff training I felt the weight of the world lifted off my shoulders. It was a clear reminder of what intentional Christian community feels like and what it does for those involved. I wasn’t in this by myself, I was surrounded by a family of other staff who all had each other's backs. We were all here to pray for and support each other when we needed it. It was a clear reminder of how important Christian community is.

One of the most rewarding and fulfilling aspects of coming back was seeing the fruit of seeds which had been planted years ago. When I first arrived at staff training in the spring I discovered that the other male counselor at Ingham was one of my campers from outdoor adventure camp in 2014. This week, he and I are counselors together for that same camp. This summer, during a family camp at Okoboji, the family I was with for the week was the first family I had as a counselor when I was a JC in 2012. It was a true blessing to see the kids having gone from grade schoolers just starting to learn about God’s truths, to mature Christian adults.

Probably the most fun part of the summer has been getting to serve alongside my family. Both my parents ended up at Ingham in support roles. My mom has been working in the kitchen and my dad has been driving the boats as a volunteer. Some of my best memories from the summer are seeing my campers talk with my mom when she was serving meals in the kitchen as she got to know them, and lifeguarding on the boat while my dad was driving for campers riding on the tube. I have also watched my dad in deep conversation with campers when they asked good questions I couldn’t answer and needed the help of a pastor.

Between the reminder of the importance of Christian community, getting to see the fruit of seeds planted in previous summers, working alongside my parents, and a multitude of other large and small events through this summer it has become abundantly clear that this is exactly where I was supposed to be. Despite my hesitancy to return because it didn’t make sense, this is where God was calling me for the summer, and possibly longer as I have applied to join year round staff as part of the Youth Ministry Team. Following God one step at a time once again, I realize my life has often been marked by taking the step placed in front of me without knowing what comes next. Every time God has been faithful in making it clear when and where the next step is just when He knows I need it.

At the beginning of the summer I thought I was simply coming back to camp as a counselor with experience to fill a role and help out, but God had so much more in store for me. He re-emphasized the importance of Christian community, and the power of prayer within it, He encouraged me in my journey to full time ministry by allowing me to see the fruit from seeds planted years ago, and he reminded me of his faithfulness and perfect timing. My life has often felt like a lesson in trusting God when it didn’t make sense, and coming back to camp this summer was just another one of those times in life where a leap of faith to follow God was greatly rewarded. I continue to live my life one step at a time taking the next one when God in his perfect timing according to his plan reveals it to me.

Follow Up:

- What are some unexpected turns your life has taken?

- Have you ever found yourself returning to a place you thought you had moved on from? What did God have to teach and show you in returning to that place?

- Have you stayed connected with a Christian community in a meaningful way through the changes COVID has brought to our world? Why or why not?


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